BJP & allies hold Gorkha ‘unity’ rally in Darjeeling

Opposition parties call unity march a gimmick ahead of Thursday poll

By Vivek Chhetri in Darjeeling
  • Published 16.04.19, 1:19 AM
  • Updated 16.04.19, 1:19 AM
  • 2 mins read
  •  
The ‘Gorkha Unity’ rally in Darjeeling on Monday The Telegraph picture

The BJP paraded representatives of at least seven political and apolitical outfits at a rally in Chowrasta here and used the gathering to claim that the Gorkhas were united behind the saffron camp even as Opposition parties called it a gimmick ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

Over 16 lakh people are expected to vote to elect a new Darjeeling MP on Thursday. Around 7 lakh voters belong to Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong — three Assembly segments in the hills.

“This is a ‘Gorkha Unity Vijay Mahajulis’. This was planned to show the unity among the Gorkhas,” said Ajoy Edwards, a steering committee member of the GNLF, calling the programme a “victory celebration”.

The GNLF is taking the lead in mobilising supporters in the hills for the BJP’s Darjeeling candidate Raju Bista.

Apart from the GNLF, the BJP also has the support of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (Bimal), the CPRM, the ABGL (Pratap), the Gorkhaland Nirman Morcha, the SUMETI Morcha and apolitical Gorkhaland Sanyukta Sangharsh Samity among others.

At Chowrasta, firecrackers were burst, traditional Nepali instruments played and the processionists played with abir, as they tried to portray the programme as a “victory celebration”.

At the public meeting, the narrative of the “victory celebration” changed a bit as the speakers talked about “victory” being secured in the polls and results just being a formality.

Such claims, a political observer said, could be construed as a “psychological game” ahead of the polls. “In closely contested polls, such tactics are often used with the motive of demoralising the Opposition,” said the observer.

Neeraj Zimba, the spokesman for the GNLF, however, asked. “Do they (Trinamul-Morcha (Binay) combine) have the guts to organise a victory celebration?”

But rivals have sought to contest the united Gorkha narrative.

“They are living in a fool’s paradise. Darjeeling is yet to vote and it’s amusing to find them celebrating,” said Suraj Sharma, the spokesman for the Morcha (Binay) camp.

Told that the BJP camp was celebrating the “victory” of unity among the Gorkhas, Sharma said: “This is a just a gimmick. Only the leaders have united. When Darjeeling was burning in the last agitation, where was the unity among these leaders? Instead, slogans like ‘all party chapter is closed’ were heard from parties which are now celebrating the unity victory.”

During the public meeting, the leaders stressed the “Gorkha pride” and made repeated reference to the 2017 Gorkhaland agitation.